Football: My amazing grace

Sep 132005
Authors: Tim Waddingham

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have two loves in my life: football and the other sports. Yes, I am a sports fanatic. A sportsaholic. It should come as no surprise then, that my favorite day of the week is Sunday. Not because of Family Guy or any HBO original series (although I do enjoy these), but because of football. Real, hard-hitting, grid-iron American football. None of that soccer crap.

In case you are ignorant to the sports world, just plain stupid, or both, this past weekend marked the beginning of yet another beautiful and rich American tradition: NFL Football. Although the season officially kicked off last Thursday night, sports people know that it didn't really begin until Sunday.

People often criticize me for being lazy on Sundays during football season. I guess they call watching nine hours of football lazy. I call it fun, or heart-breaking, depending on the day.

Since I was born in Buffalo, New York my Sundays revolve around the Bills. If the Bills win, Sundays are indescribably euphoric; if they lose, then it's a painstakingly difficult day with constant conniption fits. But the Bills are only half the fun on NFL Sundays, since there are as many as 16 games every week.

Is there anything greater than watching football in the recliner for 9 hours? With the exception of being in Vegas and winning bets on the games you're watching, there isn't. Who wouldn't want to have a little time to relax and get away from everything?

Millions of people in America watch NFL football games every Sunday just like me. For many, it is the one day people can escape from the monotonous every day grind we call life. Football provides America not only with one remarkably fun (or lazy) day; it provides us with an escape from reality, albeit a brief one – especially when we need it most.

Immediately after we were attacked on 9/11 four years ago, our country experienced patriotism on a nationwide scale. Was it any coincidence then, that a football team from the New England colony named the Patriots won the Super Bowl? Well, yes, it was a coincidence. But the point here is that sports can be very symbolic for our nation, or for regions of our nation, in times of trouble.

This past weekend the New Orleans Saints won a road game in Carolina (whom Sports Illustrated picked to win the Super Bowl), inspiring many in the Louisiana area. John Carney, the Saints' field goal kicker who made the game winning kick against the Panthers, said, "There was a sense that we were playing for more than ourselves today. We knew what this represented" ( Granted it was just a football game, but given what Hurricane Katrina has done to New Orleans, the Saints realized that it represented much more. For the people who lived in New Orleans, it gave them a temporary escape from the harsh reality they all face.

The Saints' players and coaches admit that whatever hardships they have personally gone through, pale in comparison to the hundreds of people who lost their life, literally or materialistically. Even if people survived the storm, many lost everything they had. So if the Saints were able to bring a little bit of joy to the people of New Orleans, then football served as much more than just a game, coincidentally, on September 11th.

As I mentioned, football is a sport millions of Americans enjoy every Sunday, myself included. When our country is in hard times, football, and sports in general, can serve as an escape for millions of people. From the 1980 miracle on ice to the recent Saints win on Sunday, sports can represent more than the mere game itself.

Win or lose, at the end of the day we all need to realize that sports are sports, unimportant and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But when tragedy strikes, sports allow people to take their minds off of heart-crushing realities such as life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Sports can also inspire those who have been personally affected by such tragedies. But even without tragedy, any sport can help people get away from the everyday stresses, if only for a brief period. So I say be lazy on Sundays, because life's too short not to enjoy football.

Tim Waddingham is a senior, double majoring in Political Science and Speech Communication. He loves the Bills, chocolate chip cookies, Cheez-it crackers, and milk, especially if he can have all at the same time. He hates the Broncos, but likes their cheerleaders and the white horse they have. His column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.


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